Nigerian airlines owe agencies $6.9mn, N19.3bn

NIGERIA’S minister of aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika has put the indebtedness of Nigerian airlines to the aviation agencies to a whopping $6,993,284 and N19,365,374,336.

Speaking at the three days general public hearing on the repeal and enactment of civil aviation bills of all the aviation agencies which started on Monday and ended yesterday, Wednesday, he said the debt represented the non-remittance funds of Ticket Sales Charge (TSC) and CSC collected on behalf of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA ).

The counsel to the domestic airline operators under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Chinasa Unaegbulam of Stream Sower & Kohn Chinasa Unaegbunam had earlier at the public hearing appealed to the Senate to repeal Clause 23 of the Civil Aviation Act asking for the reduction of the five per cent TSC/CSC.

According to Chinasa, the Nigerian airline operators needed a lifeline even as she advocated for the inclusion of a member of the AON on the governing board of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) so as to give the airlines a voice.

The Minister, while initiating a point of order, declared that the monies being owed the agencies by the airlines were not charges as erroneously stated by the AON lawyer but a charge collected on behalf of the NCAA which the airlines failed to remit.

The $6.9 million and N19.3 billion debt which was the accumulated five per cent PSC charges was meant to be shared among the agencies including the NCAA, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT) and the Accident Investigation Bureau ( AIB).

Though there is an ongoing plan to review the sharing formula of the PSC charges, presently, while the NCAA gets 56 per cent, NAMA enjoys 22 per cent, NiMET nine per cent, NCAT-7 per cent and AIB six per cent.

Speaking on the occasion. Group Captain John Ojikutu, retired, a member of the Aviation Round Table accused the airlines of developing a penchant for humongous debts, stating that they were also part of the problem just as he queried the lion share of 56 per cent being enjoyed by the NCAA as he called for its review.

The chairman, senate committee on aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi, used the opportunity to emphasize the need for amendment of the operating Act of the NCAA which he described as crucial and timely, describing the move as the essence of encouraging cross-fertilization of ideas with a view to improving the sector and remove all forms of ambiguity.

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